Avoiding burnout through games, scoreboards and empowerment in your contact center


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We all have our limits. Work takes a toll on us physically and mentally, and if pushed too far, we inevitably burnout.

Even in the most positive settings, we only have so much we can give to our work week. And for many of us working in the world of contact centers, we give a lot. Luckily, companies are starting to notice employee workloads and other factors that lead to churn or efficiency collapse.

In a recent study from Toister Performance Solutions, service expert Jeff Toister evaluated responses from more than 600 contact center agents with 74 percent self-reporting at risk for burnout. In his report, Toister identified eight items that correlate with burnout, three of which I will discuss below.

Does gamification prevent burnout?

Despite a hypothesis that gamification might cause burnout by distracting employees from their job, Toister’s results proved the opposite. Agents who had gamification systems were less of a burnout risk.

Gamification has remained a controversial topic for many people in the contact center world. Research has gone tit for tat regarding supposed benefits and risks. However, overt benefits such as employee satisfaction and reduced churn will continue to make gamification tools desirable. Advocates will argue it is a morale builder. The game keeps agents engaged and paints target KPIs (key performance indicators) in a more playful light.

On the board

It’s hard to be competitive without keeping score, and contact center employees enjoy a friendly competition. A gamification system may be a great idea, but if employees don’t know how they are ranked in real-time, the tool is moot.

Though, scoring is not just a gamification need. In general, employees like to know how they are performing. Knowing goals and objectives and how close you are to those goals and objectives is critical in self-evaluation and motivation.

According to Toister’s study, agents who face a severe burnout risk (50+ on the burnout self- assessment) were less likely to have a display board in their contact center (63%) than agents who were not at risk (76%).

Endowed with service powers

Digging a ditch with a tooth pick is much harder than digging one with a shovel. In the same way, delivering great service with the wrong tools can be exhausting.

In Toister’s study, it isn’t surprising that only 59 percent of respondents at severe risk for burnout “felt empowered.” In actuality, we’d expect the number to be much lower. How employees define empowerment is often tainted by the limited scope of what their employers could do to offer them more control. Power and control are derived from more than just popping off the training wheels; it’s making sure the gears are greased and the steering is strait.

Yes, companies that don’t empower their employees will likely face higher burnout rates. And this is a fairly known truth. Still, in a 2015 study from ICMI, 86% of contact centers admit to not fully empowering their agents. To empower employees, companies provide the most up-to-date tools and invest in individuals. But too many companies fear failed investments. Many are rowing a leaky boat, losing speed and replacing the paddlers to fix the problem.

To learn more, download the full report here: www.toistersolutions.com/burnout

Ben Noble
Ben Noble is a Five9 futurist and thought leader. He specializes in contact center technology and has a deep understanding of inside sales and customer service markets. Topics of interest include: AI, IoT, CRM, SaaS, PaaS, UCaaS, cyber security, cloud technology and CX.



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